Yes, It’s Hard

beach with family

For the last eight years, I have been asked time and time again if it’s hard to live so far away from “home”, from my family. The answer has always, and will always be, yes. It is not easy to live so far away from my parents, sister, other relatives and many close friends (they are in Texas, I have been all over the place, but currently Tennessee). I miss them constantly, but I also choose where I live for so many reasons (that would be a whole different post). It’s hard, yes, but THANK GOD we make it work. Thankfully, we have phones, texts, video chat, Skype, email, Facebook, etc etc. We make it work, and more importantly, we still make lots of efforts to see one another as much as possible.

side by side

Last week, we were in Texas. Oh how nice it is to go home and be spoiled and loved on by your parents. That’s one plus side of living far away….lots and lots of love and attention when you get together! We drove all night so Luna could sleep and knocked on my parents’ door bright and early at 6:30am. My Mom immediately took over with Luna and told us to catch up on our sleep. If you insist!  She was more than happy to get some much needed quality time with her Granddaughter. I retired to the living room couch where I lightly napped. Between napping, I spied. I spied on Luna and her Honey (my Mom). I spied because I didn’t want to interrupt or spoil the precious moments unfolding before my eyes.

honey walk

The two of them ate breakfast together at the tiny Mickey Mouse folding chairs and table my Mom bought. Honey taught Luna to color, and Luna taught Honey the joy of taking the crayons out of the bag one at time, and putting them back into the bag one at a time…and out…and back in…and so on, and so on. They ran all over the house, keeping each other on their toes. They snuggled in the recliner and watched cartoons. Honey blew bubbles for Luna to chase around in her PJ’s. They loved on each other as if they lived next door to one another and played side by side on a regular basis. I can’t tell you how full my heart felt as I watched them bond.

threesome

There were many many full hearted moments that week. Seeing my parents be Grandparents is really special. I hate that I can’t see it everyday, but maybe it makes it even more special this way, more appreciated, no moment taken for granted. (Though, my fingers are still crossed that they will one day move to Tennessee!) I also got to see my nephew, who I haven’t seen since Thanksgiving! Having my nephew and Luna together was the best!

bath with micah

cousins

Then, there my cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, babies, babies and more babies! Every trip to Texas is a crazy whirlwind of visiting one person after another. There is never enough time to see everyone I want to see or see enough of the people I do get to see. Texas just has too many awesome people living in it! (That’s right, that Texas pride never fades, nor does its modesty.) While we may have been ready to get home and get Luna back on a normal schedule, we weren’t ready to say goodbye.

beach day

beach hat

So, yes, it’s hard to live so far from “home”, but we make it work. While the distance may be hard, staying connected isn’t. Sure, it takes a little work, but doesn’t everything worth anything take some work?

reading with pawpaw

Until next time, Texas…

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Cheers!

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My Baby is ONE

Exactly one year ago at 12:11 pm, after a not-so-magical delivery, Luna was born. That little red bundle with blonde hair and a huge lump on her head from the vacuum was placed in my arms. That’s the moment that will forever change me. That’s when I became “Mom”. As I type my eyes are welling up with tears, so bear with me as I try to get through this without a ridiculous amount of sentimental cheesiness. My baby is one. ONE. How does this happen so all of a sudden?

I swear she is still this small!
I swear she is still this small!

There are several memories and moments over the last year that I could gush about, but I just want to write about two very special memories. At this big one-year milestone, these two memories seem the most significant.

baby luna

Luna was born about 3 weeks early. She was forced out because of my blood pressure, and I couldn’t help but wonder Is she ready? When I held her for the first time I looked at all her toes, fingers and features and everything seemed right and ready, except her eyelashes. Luna had no eyelashes. I thought, that’s it, that’s all she was waiting for…eyelashes. They seem so insignificant, but to me they were the one thing reminding me that she wasn’t fully ready to arrive. She needed a little more time.

Each morning, the first thing I did was check her lashes. Every single day,  they grew substantially. As we bonded in the hospital those first ten days I couldn’t help but stare at her lashes. I tried hard to memorize every little curve of her tiny red face, but her eyelashes will always be what I remember most. The rate at which they grew amazed me and comforted me. She was growing. I was sustaining her, and her eyelashes proved it. I still stare at them in awe, like, “I did that… I grew that baby, and those long lashes”.

sleep baby

The next memory is about a week later. We were home from the hospital, and like every new Mom I was exhausted and overwhelmed. One night, I was trying to lull her to sleep by singing and for some reason only “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” would come to mind. Desperate for song ideas, I grabbed my phone, opened Pandora and searched for a “lullaby” station. (BTW, this is a great station!) I walked her around the room gently patting her back and singing along with the music. Then, a popular current ballad began playing that caught me by surprise.

bath baby

The song A Thousand Years by Christian Perri played and though I’ve heard this sound a thousand times, the lyrics spoke to me for the first time. The song began…

Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave?
How can I love when I’m afraid to fall?
But watching you stand alone,
All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow.

Without thinking, I began singing along, but after the first few lines, I stopped in my tracks. My eyes filled with tears. I looked at that beautiful baby girl in my arms and thought, I have loved you for a thousand years. This song suddenly made so much sense. It didn’t sound like a mushy romantic love song from Twilight anymore. It was describing exactly how I felt at that very moment, holding my crying baby, exhausted, scared but so in love with that tiny little human in my arms.

Time stands still
Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath
Every hour has come to this

Right there, in Luna’s nursery, I completely fell apart. I cried and cried, not because I was sad or scared, but because the lyrics were a reflection of those first couple of weeks. I have loved this beautiful baby my entire life, and always will.  (Also, I was incredibly hormonal…) Anyways I still can’t hear this song without getting teary eyed.

Recently, I was trying to think of what to do with the dozens of videos we have taken with Luna with our phones over the last year, and when this song came on the radio, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

ny baby

So, hear it is, a year with Luna…

Happy Birthday Baby Girl! We love you more than you can ever imagine.

Cheers!

TBT: Drive, Play, Fall (Part II)

Here’s the continuation of one of our Albanian adventures that I began sharing a couple of Thursdays ago. These stories were first told on my first blog “Adventures of a Teacher”. Enjoy!

CHAPTER 3: Cave Journey

After our heated night in the hotel room we got up early and headed to the beach to rent some kayaks. We paid an eight year old boy 500  leke ($5) to use the boats for an hour and headed down the shore. Our friend, Erind, lead us to a beautiful cove with a tall cave entrance. The cave was not very deep, but the ceilings were high, and there was a large opening at the top that allowed sunbeams to come through and reflect on the navy water. We immediately pulled our boat on the rocks and began exploring. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t take my camera.)

Our view from where we ate breakfast.
Our view from where we ate breakfast.

I was barefoot so it was a little painful to climb around the coral-like formations, so I decided to take a swim. The water was icy, but refreshing. I swam across the cave to a rock formation where Boyfriend was climbing and kicked something that I thought was coral. However, when I exited the water to examine my foot, I found 4 barbs stuck in my toes from a sea urchin. It really stung, but I tried to laugh it off and talk about how I now had something to blog about.

Walking on the rocky beach before our kayaking adventure.
Walking on the rocky beach before our kayaking adventure.

The rock formation we climbed was about 30 feet tall and provided a window out of the cave and into the ocean. The water was crystal clear and very deep so we all took turns jumping off the cliff. It was a little of an adrenaline rush, and shockingly cold when we hit the water. We were past our one-hour rental time so we quickly got in our boats to head back. I could not stop shivering as we paddled so Erind kindly suggested we stop in another close cove to rest on the warm rocks.

CHAPTER 4: What Goes Up Must Come Down

I laid out on the hot stones to stay warm, Erind went for a swim to find more sea urchins, and Boyfriend, being Boyfriend, decided to start climbing all the rocks around us. After about twenty minutes I heard Boyfriend’s feet stepping through the pebbles as he descended the cliff he had conquered. I turned around to tell him I was ready, and was shocked to find him limping and bleeding from almost head-to-toe.

I frantically asked what had happened, and he just limped past me and fell into the water. His face was pale and shocked, and he continued to ignore my questions. He had obviously fallen, and by this time Erind had noticed and we were both trying to get him out of the water to examine the damage.

Boyfriend explained to me hours later that while he was climbing down, a very large rock broke underneath him and he slipped a few feet down, then the large rock fell on top of his right leg and broke in half over his leg. It was apparently traumatic enough to make Boyfriend very sick once his adrenaline lowered. We had to wait on the little beach for almost an hour before he would get back on the kayak. Once that was done, I rowed the two of us for an hour to get back to where we started.

Everyone on the shore was shocked to find us in such a state. A very kind Albanian woman ran to grab her first aid kit and made Boyfriend lay back while she cleaned up his wounds. Another hour passed and we tried to get Boyfriend back to the car, which just made his leg more swollen and bleed even more. Erind and his friends decided to take us to the “emergency room” on the beach.

Here's Peter putting on brave face as the kind woman cleaned his wounds. I left out all the photos of the actual wounds...you're welcome.
Here’s Boyfriend putting on brave face as the kind woman cleaned his wounds. I left out all the photos of the actual wounds…you’re welcome.

This “emergency room” was more like a clinic you would imagine in a WWII movie. It was very small, concrete walls, little metal beds, and no A/C. The Albanian doctor was very soft-spoken and could not speak English. Luckily, we had our friends to translate.

After cleaning the wounds once more, the doc suggested he have stitches in his leg (and that there was a 90% chance it was NOT broken). This of course led to a local anesthetic which made Boyfriend sick once more. Finally, it was all cleaned and bandaged, and the extremely kind doctor sent us on our way. (He wouldn’t charge us anything so we left him a tip instead.)

doctor

Finally, (after a 7 hour drive), we made it home. We are still exhausted.

At least the drive home was pretty.
At least the drive home was pretty.

Overall, we really did have a great weekend. After only being here one week, we have toured the capital, made many new friends, seen the mountains, kayaked the ocean, and visited the hospital. Not too bad if I do say so myself. Oh, and Boyfriend totally stole the thunder from my sea urchin sting.

EPILOGUE:

Boyfriend is fine and will survive his little mishap, maybe even learn something from it. Currently, he is horizontal with his leg elevated and watching movies. Mostly, he is frustrated that he cannot leave the apartment. I have a feeling, that our next adventure won’t be too far away.

Annnddd 4 years later, Husband is still always finding away to get himself into trouble and do something dangerous. Everyday is an adventure with this guy.

Cheers!

Moments of Gratitude

thankful

Do you ever have those moments of gratefulness overcome you? Moments when you think, is this really happening? Am I really this lucky? I love those moments. I get hit by them randomly, like when I grocery shop. Sometimes, I reach for something stupidly overpriced like organic kale or look at my full cart of food that I chose in the checkout line and am immediately overwhelmed at how fortunate I am. There are so many people in our world who will never get to do something as simple as grocery shop and get everything that they need.

I get lost in these moments. It hits me at all different times, when Luna laughs, when the dog fits perfectly in the nook behind my knees and sleeps with her head on my thighs, when Husband reads to Luna or makes me coffee or when I sit in a hot bath reading my Nook. All of a sudden I realize I have so much to be grateful for and I try to take a mental picture of that moment and file it under the “don’t forget this!” tab in my brain. I need these memories saved and easily accessed for those rainy days when I think life is one big pile of stink.

I had one of these moments of gratitude while riding bikes during our recent trip to Hilton Head. We were almost done with a 16 mile bike ride and I began thinking about a trip we took to Target just two weeks after having Luna. I was so weak and sick from the blood pressure issues and the drugs the doctors had me taking that I had to use one of those motorized wheelchairs to get around the store, and even that was a struggle. I remember getting tears in my eyes because I couldn’t help, but think “will this ever get any better”. Logically, I knew that I would/should, but under the influence of hormones, anxiety and feeling like crap I really wasn’t sure I’d ever be back to myself again.

hhi

Fast forward 6 months and I’m on a beach in Hilton Head with lots of family, doing yoga in the morning, taking a 16 mile bike ride in the afternoon, swimming in between and feeling healthy and extremely happy. I realized how much has changed in 6 months and thought I cannot forget this feeling.

bike ride

Then, I look at my Dad.

He was on bicycle in front of me. He had brain surgery to remove a tumor just 4 months ago. He is not only enjoying the beach with me, but he is also on this long bike ride. The realization of where we are and the strides we have made brought tears to my eyes. We are very very fortunate.

group

I hope to never forget that grateful feeling I felt on the bicycle ride. I hope I’m able to remember it next time I wonder if things will ever get any better because they do. Things get better. They won’t always be the same… the truth is I’ll never be the same I was before I had Luna. No, I’ve definitely changed, but for the better. In fact, since having Luna I have many more moments of gratitude. I’m more aware of what I have to lose and what really matters, which is just making life more pleasant. Today, I am thankful.

Thankful Luna got to spend so much quality time with her PawPaw
Thankful Luna got to spend so much quality time with her PawPaw

Cheers.

First Swim

first swim

It’s summer time!!! Summer is my favorite season. I love hot weather, the beach, swimming, snocones, tans, bare-feet, tank-tops, shorts and the natural blonde streaks that appear in my hair. If it were up to me I’d live on a beach somewhere near the equator and have summer year round. Summer is also the season when we do the most traveling, hiking, rock-climbing, kayaking, swimming and whatever other crazy adventures we can plan. This summer is extra special because it’s Luna’s first summer, which means lots of other firsts too….like her first swim.

diva
SUCH a diva

Last weekend we took Luna to the city pool with her Grandparents and you know I had the perfect pool outfit and accessories for the occasion.

geting in

Luna loves bath time, but I didn’t know if a pool would bring the same joy. After all, her bath is warm and in a sink with only her Dad and I there. The city pool is slightly different. She didn’t look exactly thrilled in the big cold pool with a hundred other people around her, but she didn’t get upset either. I think it was a success.

first dip

After a short swim, lunch and a nap time, the baby pool was empty and calling our names. The life guard was nice enough to let us drag the large umbrella that was meant to cover him into the shallow pool to keep us shaded. Luna is too young for sunscreen so I didn’t want her in the sun for very long. The water in the baby pool was warm and the big umbrella kept us protected from the sun. It was perfect.

babypool

straight up chillin'
straight up chillin’

Luna definitely enjoyed her time in the private baby pool. Can’t wait to take her swimming again!

happy sunglasses

Cheers!

 

Reminiscing

My weekend was so fun that I couldn’t even manage to squeeze in some blogging action. I did write lots today but alas our internet is broken and Comcast is mean. So, tonight I’ll share some photos I found while finally unpacking our photo albums the other day.

I planned to arrange our dvd’s, books and albums in about an hour one afternoon and ended up spending four hours looking at thousands of old photos. Thanks to these crazy pregnancy hormones I cried and cried over most of the old pictures. Lucky for you, I snapped a few photos of photos on my phone, and since my phone has a tiny bit of internet signal out here in the woods its pretty much all I can do tonight.

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Little Hilarie…always a ham.

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Me and Kelly…gearing up for the Shrimpfest pageant. Yes, that’s a real thing.

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Me and my favorite girls getting ready to perform in high school…yeehaw!

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Me and dad….awwwww.

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Baby Belle!

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Meeting Hilarie Duff.

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The moment I knew Husband was the one…I convinced him to dress up as Peter Pan after just meeting him. This was at our Disney cast member pajama party.

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Classic sister photo. Seriously Mom, what were you thinking!?

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3rd grade slumber party!

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My last day working at Blizzard Beach with one of my best friends.

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And the most adorable Minnie Mouse you ever did see.

So many good memories…and many more to come.

cheers!